Dig Deep

John 1

John1 29

Hello again!  This week we will be going into the slightly-confusing-at-first-glance book of John.  My hope is that you either find something new from my thoughts today or are just reminded of the truth you already know!

Thought #1 – Vs. 1 – 18: Do you ever want to find the person that wrote this book and say, “You know, you could have written this much more clearly for us and a lot of doctrinal debates would be very different…”?  Because I sure do.  But then again, much of the confusion that comes from this chapter surrounds translation issues and reading out of context, which I’ve noticed our world today does quite often.  To truly get at what the author of this book is trying to say, it is critical to go back to the first translations.  When looking at verse 1, we see “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  And thus starts many doctrinal debates right with that tiny little word ‘was’.  But if we go back to the Greek, we see that the “Word” here is ‘Logos’, a Greek word meaning “plan.”  That little translational difference dramatically changes how people may interpret this first verse.  This entire book is such a great reminder to always dig a little bit deeper.  As someone who is part of the COG faith, I’ll be honest in saying it can sometimes get tiring to feel like I constantly need to defend my beliefs.  And sometimes it’s a little scary because I’m afraid I’ll be proven wrong.  Over the past two years or so, I have been very motivated to dig for truth in Scripture.  At first, it was a little nerve-wracking and truthfully just plain exhausting.  But as I continually found passages of Scripture that aligned with what I believed to be true, I found such joy in the process of digging!  It was so encouraging and grew my faith as I grew in confidence of the God that I believe in.  When having discussions with other Christians with different perspectives, it is important to come with an open mind and heart.  It’s also important to be comfortable answering difficult questions with “I’d like to look into that more, can I get back to you?”  Don’t rush the process, detectives don’t solve a case in a day!  Sometimes after difficult conversations with others I would find myself praying later that day for wisdom in how to respond, and BOOM, someone somewhere would lead me straight to a Scriptural reference or two to help.  You will find an answer if you’re willing to DIG.  Have you become tired or afraid of defending your beliefs?  Have confidence in our God; find joy in the process of digging into Scripture with an open mind to seek truth!

Thought #2 – Vs. 46-51: Jesus is a little sassy, and I love it.  In these verses Nathanael has no faith that Jesus is the true Messiah.  When he does believe, Jesus basically tells him, “Oh my friend, you haven’t seen anything yet.  I’m just getting started.”  I wish that I could have been there to witness that!  It would’ve been a perfect “oooooh snap” moment.  The best part is, Jesus has every right to say these things!  He is the true Messiah, and he was about to do some absolutely amazing things that would radically change the entire world FOREVER.  We are right in the midst of the Easter season, and these verses come at a great time to remind us of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth.  I can’t even imagine being alive during Jesus’ time on earth and how COOL that must have been!  To witness miracles, to witness him simply being the promised one that I had been hearing about probably since I was born!  And he was just getting started!  I wonder if Jesus’ followers at that time were just as confident as he was when speaking to Nathanael, or if there was still some hesitation and doubt.  As we prepare for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, pause and reflect for a moment.  How do you react when faced with doubt about truths within Scripture?  Do you stand up with confidence as Jesus did, or do you question like Nathanael first did?

Thanks for sticking with me during this longer post!  I look forward to continuing John with you in the next few days.

~Sarah Blanchard

    

Keep At It

ACTS 18

Acts 18 9 10

Acts 18 details the cities that Paul visited on his way from Jerusalem to Greece and some of the highlights in those cities.  While in Corinth Paul again has issues with the Jewish community there and instead finds a Gentile man named Titius Justus who was a worshiper of God.  Paul also has a vision from God in which God says,

“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9,10)

I understand why Paul would need this encouragement with the number of cities that he had been thrown out of after annoying the local Jewish population with his message.

What I find interesting is the fact that Paul is the first missionary to set foot on the continent of Europe and just recently we read about the first convert in the area, yet even in this “heathen” land filled with idols and false gods God is working in people’s lives and has people who worship him.  These people do not know the gospel and need to hear about Jesus desperately, but even without that knowledge they are seeking God and worshiping him. We see this today in many of the mission fields that we send people into. The people do not know about Christ, but it is obvious that God has been working in their community to prepare them to hear.  This is why it is so important that we get out there and evangelize. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

Then while traveling in Ephesus in modern day Turkey, Paul runs into a man named Apollos who was a Jew that knew his scriptures (Old Testament) thoroughly and knew only the message of John the Baptist.  With only this information he was boldly speaking about Jesus and the fact that he was the son of God. He was off on some things, but he was on fire for God and was running with it.

These verses are encouraging because they show that you do not need to have everything figured out theologically in order to follow God.  You don’t need a master’s degree or years of training for him to be working in your life. Now I do think that seeking truth should be an important part of any believer’s life, but all that is needed to get started with God is faith in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to work in your life.

-Chris Mattison

Leave the Boat Behind

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Many of you who subscribe to this blog are currently on voyage towards your “Mission” or FUEL 2018.  Sadly, I have been left behind (electively) for the first time in almost 20 years, which gives me a wonderful opportunity to man the deck and steer the course for your inspiration from the scriptures.  My hope for those attending FUEL 2018 is to place a mark on your map, so you can begin navigating your day. Those of us not attending or those who don’t even know what FUEL is, I hope to remind you of the called Christian’s day-in-day-out commissioning that sets us on a life-saving and life-giving course, not only for ourselves, but for all who have set sail seeking the truth.

 

To provide some context for our key text today, Matthew 2-4 shows us the preparation of Jesus for His ministry and purpose.  He was born with distinction, baptized to be righteous, and tempted to be proven. He is now ready and worthy for his calling to share a game-changing gospel to both Jews and Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1-2).   He begins sharing this good news, specifically, looking for disciples to come follow Him. The events that unfold in Matthew 4:18-22 are shocking to most of us. Jesus calls a set of brothers to follow him, and they actually do it.  And then it immediately happens again. WHAT!? Now to be fair, we are not given a lot of context. It is possible the conversation with these fishermen was longer than “Come, and follow me and I will send you out to fish for people,” but keep in mind, this is before the miracles of Jesus — when he was baptized, tempted, and sharing the gospel like us.  If Jesus spoke any other words or had a reputation, it was regarding two things: repentance and the Kingdom of God (v.17).

 

Now, it has been said the two best days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy their boat and day they get rid of it.  It would be disingenuous to say all boat owners feel this sentiment, but the majority do. Why? The infatuations and pleasures brought by owning a boat quickly are outweighed by the unforeseen investments, burdens, and maintenance.  Andrew, Peter, James, and John could very well have been content, but were undoubtedly ready to disembark because they were looking for something better. These four men left their nets, boats, and fathers and immediately followed Jesus. I know. You are scratching your head — “It doesn’t happen like this; people today don’t actually leave their stuff, work, or family behind to follow Jesus.” It actually does.  Quite a bit in the Bible, but as I have seen with my own eyes, quite a bit today WHEN there isn’t contentment with leaving people on sinking vessels.

 

We do not have to perform miracles to create this type of rapid response to the gospel, only share the message that removes the burdening responsibilities “owning” a boat. What is that message?  “Come, follow Him, ” in this many words or more, not merely left to a cryptic metaphor with our actions. Additionally, we must be ready to verbalize our answer to the hope we have, the faith that makes us live differently (1 Peter 3:15).  These words are our net, our bait, our way of setting the hook for conversation; otherwise, we are just fishermen, waiting for a fish to hop onto the shore (which is pretty ineffective). No matter what we catch, those who share our message and praise it, those who hate our message and curse it, or those who are seeking our message and find it, we are His fishers of men who continually cast our message of the Kingdom of God, seeking and searching for those who are ready to leave the boat behind.

-Aaron Winner